Now Residing in the Blessed Realm: Chris Tolkien (1924-2020) | The American Conservative

On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the holy host of the Valar (all 14 members of that august body) welcomed and praised Christopher Tolkien as he gently passed from this Middle-earth toward the Blessed Realm, with a quick stop in Tol Eressëa. It was yet one more grievous loss to us in early 2020, and one more celebrated in the Halls of Manwë. Christopher Tolkien had led an exemplary life, one of immense piety. He’d dedicated himself to his father in mythology, to his country in wartime, and to his civilization in crisis.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/now-residing-in-the-blessed-realm-christopher-tolkien-1924-2020/

The Remarkable 2 is going to be delayed

Remarkable has been one of the breakout digital note taking devices of the past generation and many people have purchased one and are quite happy with it. The company had developed the Remarkable 2 and submitted an application to the FCC in early December, this is the last step before a product can be sold in the United States. It looks like the Remarkable 2 is going to be delayed for an indeterminate amount of time, because Remarkable filed a dismissal application. This application states that due to marketing considerations they want to cancel it.
— Read on goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/the-remarkable-2-is-going-to-be-delayed

Traveller: A Classic Science Fiction Simulator | Tor.com

Howard: Character generation basically simulated your military career, where you picked up all kinds of interesting things like engineering, gambling, bribery, computers, administration, piloting, and gunnery. If you were dissatisfied with your skill set you could do another tour of duty before mustering out. Of course, another tour made your character older.

Todd: And possibly dead.

Howard: Yeah, there was a chance every tour of duty would kill you, which was a bitter twist when you were finally rounding out that hot shot space pilot. Traveller never sold quite as well as D&D—
— Read on www.tor.com/2020/01/10/traveller-a-classic-science-fiction-simulator/

Will durant lives

Will Durant lives “Through their volumes on the history of civilization, Will and Ariel Durant tapped into a large audience in the United States—readers that presumably had more than a vestigial interest in culture. The series paralleled the introduction of courses in Western Civilization by American colleges designed, as David Gress argued in From Plato to NATO, to make sense of the crisis brought on by World War I. By contrast, academics had long sought to ground their approaches to society and culture in scientific method with its prestige and claim to understanding. An older tradition of philosophical history as belle lettres did not suit this cultural moment.”

WILLIAM ANTHONY HAY 

William Anthony Hay is professor of history at Mississippi State University and the 2019-20 Garwood Visiting Fellow for the James Madison Program at Princeton University. He is also the author of Lord Liverpool: A Political Life, and The Whig Revival, 1808-1830.

Finding Meaning in History

The Vatican’s Alliance with China: More Evil Than We Thought | The Stream

Pope Francis isn’t shy about denouncing Western countries for executing murderers. Or even giving them life sentences. He denounces the manufacture of weapons as “un-Christian.”

But what have we heard from Francis about China’s routine executions of criminals and dissidents? Its massive military spending, which dwarfs Hitler’s rearmament in the build-up to World War II?

Crickets.

Even with his Vatican surrounded by Fascist Italian soldiers, Pius XII clearly condemned such evils. (And helped save 800,000 Jews from slaughter.) That’s what we expect from a pope. Or used to.
— Read on stream.org/the-vaticans-alliance-with-china-more-evil-than-we-thought/

A Different Kind of Progressive | National Review

Sixty minutes long, The Underfall Yard praises the gentle ingenuity and social order of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods in England. Almost utterly English in its tone and expression, the album captures the mythic soul of an era. With a fragile but virtuous invocation of an autumnal twilight of a culture, the album begins with the appearance of the evening star, always a sign of hope. But, through the hour of immersion, the listener visits fallen aristocrats, bygone brickworks, and decaying railways.

The song that is most profound in its lyrics is “Winchester Diver,” the true story of a man, William Walker, who spent years fixing the flooded area that was ruining the foundations of Winchester Cathedral. Spending hours at a time in darkness, sustained by an oxygen tank, the diver could hear the Mass celebrated above him while encountering what he assumed were visions of demons and hell below him. In this purgatorial moment, progressive rock reaches its height — a connection of the earth and the sky, the water and the land, heaven and hell. The human person, filled with integrity and determination, finds himself surrounded on all sides by adversity. In the end, though, he perseveres. The cathedral remains in form as well as in spirit.

The final song, the 23-minute “The Underfall Yard,” expresses the same longings as the rest of the album — the longings of progressive rock and, ultimately, of the human condition.
— Read on www.nationalreview.com/2012/05/different-kind-progressive-bradley-j-birzer/

A Homeric Life: Neil Peart (1952-2020) | The American Conservative

When I got home that day, I took the cellophane off of the album, pulled it gently out of its sleeve, and then properly dusted each side of the album to avoid the unavoidable pops. Before playing the music, though, I studied the lyrics, the liner notes, and the sleeve photos. For some reason, the three members of the band—Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart—looked really old to me, but I heartily approved. If old people could make rock music, they must be ok!  Little did I know, then, that Peart was only fifteen years old than me.

The needle on my turntable descended and that first massive chord opening “Tom Sawyer” thundered throughout the house. I was a devout follower of the band from that moment through today.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-homeric-life-neil-peart-1952-2020/

Exit The Warrior: Neil Peart, 1952-2020

There are drummers, and then there are really good drummers.  And then there is Neil Peart.  It’s almost fitting of Peart that his death was not announced until today, January 10th, three days after his actual death on January 7th.  Whereas others did things in simple time and merely kept the beat, Peart’s timing – in drums and in life – was never conventional.  Hence the announcement of his death not on the day he died, but three days later.  The beats never fell quite where they were expected.

There is not much I can say about Peart, the drummer, that hasn’t already been said.  Just about every superlative imaginable has been used to describe his drumming, and a few have probably even been made up.  Peart was simply so good at what he did that new words needed to be invented if one wanted to give an adequate description.  And still, it fell short.  You just had to listen to him play, and if were lucky, see him.  Peart set a standard the drummers everywhere have been trying to live up to, with only a few able to even get within the ballpark.  That’s not a criticism of those that can’t.

Part of the reason Peart was such an incredible talent on the drums has to do with his own philosophy for living.  Whether by temperament or practice, Peart was a Stoic’s Stoic.  He comported himself in a way that would have made Epictetus and Marcus Aerelius proud.  Far from indulging in the perks of fame and fortune and losing his head, Peart shied away from the excesses of the rock star lifestyle.  Instead of flying in a fancy jet between tour dates, as would be common for rockers of his stature, Peart rode his motorcycle between cities, choosing instead to indulge himself in nature and the world around him.  Instead of chasing groupies and destroying hotels, Peart would sit quietly in his room, reading books, filling his head with knowledge.

And as an artist, he valued his integrity above all else.  He was never content to simply go through the motions for a given song or a given album.  It had to be his best.  Nor would Peart, the chief lyricist of Rush, chase hits with sappy love songs and the like.  He deplored the excess commercialization of rock music, as spelled out in the lyrics of one of Rush’s more popular songs, The Spirit of Radio.

From a personal perspective, the timing of the arrival of both Rush and Peart into my life was most serendipitous.  In the spring of 1979, I purchased their breakthrough album, 2112.  As Rush fans are well aware, 2112 revolves around themes of the individual vs. the collective, totalitarianism, and the human spirit’s unshakeable yearning to be free.  Around that same time, I was having numerous, lengthy conversations with my maternal grandmother who, along with my grandfather, aunt, and mother, were defectors from the communist hellhole known as East Germany.  Whereas Peart’s lyrics from 2112 introduced me to a fictional world in which the human spirit was crushed by a totalitarian government, the talks with my grandmother introduced me to one that was all too real.  Individually, 2112 and the talks with my grandmother both left strong impressions on my.  Together, those impressions reinforced one another to leave an indelible mark.

My story is just one of perhaps millions with regard to the influence of Neil Peart.  The impact drummers have on their fans is through their drumming, and little more.  They set an example of how to play drums.  Peart, on the other hand did so much more.  He set an example on how to live, how to maintain one’s self when the surrounding world is pulling in different direction, how to maintain one’s integrity through the ups and downs that life throws at all of us.  And thankfully, so much of that is recorded for posterity.

Thank you, Neil, for being a shining example for all of us.